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Arthur William Parr 1895 RAFC / RAF service questions


KeithGParr
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AWP was my father. He joined the 13th Middlesex Regiment in September 1914, service number g/4556.

In September 1917 he was commissioned into the 6th Middlesex.

At some point he transferred from ground troops to the RAFC, or so I'm told, but I have no evidence of this nor a date. Can anyone please suggest a way I might find out when this happened?

It seems that even when in the RAFC, men retained their old regiment, is that correct?

He joined the RAF at its inception, I have his RAF service record.

I have the following notes of tidbits mentioned by my mother, many years after the event:

He learned to fly at Waddington (in 47 TS, Training Squadron, see service record) and also flew from Hucknall near Nottingham. Then he went to the Instructor Pool Course at Lutterworth where he became a pilot instructor. Then he joined the 15 TDS (Training Depot Station) at Hucknall. Eventually he ended up in the Ferry Pool at Orchard Street in London where he flew repaired and new planes to France and flew the wrecks back

I'd welcome any confirmation, refutation, or amplification of the above! I'm interested to find out what he did, when, and where in his RAFC / RAF career.

He was hospitalised at 2nd Northern General Hospital (Leeds) in March 1919 - severely injured. Independently, he was said to have pranged a plane near Bradford, no details available, and I am wondering if this was the cause of the hospitalisation. I've found two accident cards (thanks to a link to the RAF museum records found in this forum - thank you!!), one is difficult (for me anyway) to read / decipher and I've asked if I might be able to get a better quality scan.

I'll be grateful for any information and guidance on how to pursue the story.

Keith

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Keith,

Presumably you have his service RAF service record from AIR 76/389101.

It looks like he may have an Army service record, but it is still with the MoD, for some reason, going by the WO 338 entry below. I cannot be sure that it is him but it refers to the Middlesex Regiment (57th) and RAF.

post-20576-0-05953500-1418769731_thumb.j

Phil

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The casualty cards simply refer to him being seriously injured in a crash on 6.3.19 in Bristol Fighter F4868 with Falcon III engine 2179WD88914

He was attached to CDP London. No other details are given

The medical card seems to have a reference to Coventry on the same date as well as 2 Northern General Leeds

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Thank you nieuport11 for the interpretation of the casualty card. I could read one but not understand the abbreviations. The other one seems to have more information - or have you also been able to read that too?

Phil: yes I have his RAF service record and I'm beginning to understand it.

How might I go about getting access to his Army record? And where did you find the WO 338 entry please? I'd like to learn how to find this stuff for myself!

I'm puzzled by the reference to the 57th Middx, that's the first time I've see it and might mean there's a second AWP in the records.

There also seems to be something under:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C11801131

but I can't find it on FMP

Keith

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Please ignore that last bit about not finding the reference on FMP. Turns out that there are (at least?) two other AWPs, one of whom's birth year is also 1895.

Keith

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The best way to read the casualty cards is click on them and download them, but the resolution of the 'medical cards' is really not good enough - they should have scanned at a higher resolution. My reading of both cards is as above, the only other information being reference numbers

As you have noted there is a Major AWCV Parr (Rifle Brigade) who was also a delivery pilot and pranged a couple of RE8's in early 1919

There is a medal card in WO 372/15/110380

and a second one in WO 372/15/126975

WO 338 is an index to the Army WO 339 files and there should be one for him whilst in the Middlesex Regt

Details of when he joined the RFC/RAF will be in the AIR 76 file

Details of promotions and appointments will also be in the London Gazette, which you can search online

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Thank you again, nieuport11.

I've already searched the London Gazette and found a number of relevant entries but not, so far, one concerning a transfer to RAFC.

Please can you tell me how to search / access the various WO files? I'm assuming WO=War Office?

When I do a search in the National Archives, I see a WO reference on the front page of the document (usually), but I've yet to find a way to search a specific set of files. Doing a "search everything" doesn't seem to turn up much. I note the comment from Phil above that the Army files are still with the MoD.

I have his RAF Service Record (showing the AIR76 number) but it only details his RAF activity. There's a note that he attended 47TS for example, but no dates and nothing (that I recognise) to indicate service in the RAFC.

Keith

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Keith,

I am not that good on explanations, so I will provide you with a number of useful links to researching officers:

Looking for records of a British Army Officer after 1913. There used to be a far better guide, but it seems to have disappeared these days.

WO 338 is an old handwritten index to Officers' Long Numbers and was invaluable before the NA started indexing WO 339 and WO 374 properly. It is downloadable, in about a dozen parts, for free from the NA, but is for anoraks only. A better explanation can be found here. If you do feel a need to download it, start here.

As I said previously, by the P reference on the WO 338 entry, it would indicate that his service record should be with the MoD and you would therefore be able to get a copy, by following the process here. What worries me however, is that I recently downloaded the databases mentioned on this thread and when I looked last night, on Sheet 2, there was a full run from P83851 to P83858, except P83857. The record may therefore have been destroyed, although I hope I am wrong.

By the way, the reference to 57th was because WO 338 uses the old designation of Regiments of Foot.

Phil

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Cut and paste the above WO 372 references into Discovery and the result will come straight up, or follow these two links:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D4509505

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D4526100

Click on the heading and pay your £3.30. Note that the WO 372 medal index won't say very much (and probably isn't worth £3.30!)

Yes, WO is the War Office collection

The WO 338 index is simply an index to the WO 339 files as explained above

You can download the relevant index for free here:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14538040

but I hope you have broadband as it is 64MB!

I'm guessing from Phil's post that the file is WO 339/207888 but Discovery says this doesn't exist.

Click on this link to see why it isn't available

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14543

(Note that once you select a reference on Discovery you can click on 'Browse by reference' to view surrounding files in sequence)

Because Discovery dumps results in no particular order it is often easiest to download the results as a csv file, load it into Excel and sort by description

Remember that you can do Boolean searches in Discovery and use wildcards. Obviously a search such as 'WO 339 Parr Middlesex' should return what you want but you can get clever with searches like 'WO Par* Middle* NOT Major' etc

I presume when you say RAFC you mean RFC (Royal Flying Corps). The dates he transferred to the various units should be on the AIR 76 file. If any date is prior to 1 April 1918 then it is RFC rather than RAF

However it appears he was granted a temp commission in the RAF 16.5.18, see

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30759/page/7326

and thus was not in the RFC, and didn't transfer to the RAF on its foundation

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The RFC was an Army Corps prior to the formation of the RAF.

I am guessing that he was attached to the RFC and retained by the Middlesex Regiment.

I can only get one of the two medal index cards to come up on Ancestry. I would have liked to have seen what was on the one that refers to the RAF.

Phil

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A quick answer to your second message, Phil:

I too failed to find the second one on Ancestry, no idea why it should not be there. I have spent my hard-earned cash and obtained a copy from TNA.

It's a single page copy of six card records, one of which refers to AWP. This says:

Middx R Pte G/4556

Blank line

R A F Lieut

In the notes it says Comm 25-9-17 Middx R

It shows his 15 star, but not the Victory Medal which shows on the other card.

I have a suspicion that posting it here might be against the rules - I'll see if I can PM it to you, I assume something like that must be possible.

You've also raised a point I was hoping to get clarified. It's been suggested that when a man transferred from his ground regiment to the RAFC (Royal Army Flying Corps, that's how my parents referred to it!) he remained part of his regiment. This was historical, I suppose, as RFC was regarded as "an assistant to the artillery" or some such. Only when the RAF was formed as a unified singular force was there a suggestion of transfer.

His RAF service record shows date service started as 27 April 1918, while his commission is shown as 25 September 1917 on the medal card and service record.

I'm wondering whether the commission came with taking up flying (in the RFC), or passing his flying exam, or some such.

Keith

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Looks like I've broken Discovery :glare:, I get a run-time error, guess I'll have to try again another day ...

Thanks for the tip that you can search Discovery for the references, simple when you know how!

Phil: what does that P83857 number represent? Does it imply another service number, as well as or instead of G/4556? Is this the explanation:

[long number] continued to be used throughout the First World War until it was replaced in 1922 by the Personal Number (P number)

Were P numbers allocated retrospectively, also to those who were already demobbed?

In that snippet that nieuport11 posted, what's the significance of the (207888)?

I downloaded the Excel spreadsheets and did a first pass search, assuming the records in each file were in birth date order (which they appear to be). And failed to find AWP in the 22 August 1895 lists. I may amalgamate the files and do some more thorough searching, but your failure to find the record too bodes ill.

I note the following on the TNA web site:

You are unlikely to find

  • regular soldiers who continued in the army after 1920

  • soldiers who transferred to another service, taking their service record with them

That second condition MIGHT suggest his records could be with the RAF. Does that make any sense?

nieuport11: his RAF service record mentions i.a.

Attd 47 TS

15 TDS

and there's a date "nearby" (ie not on the same line) 16 May 1918, the note thereafter: on grad 2/Lt(Flying). Now it makes sense, got his ticket and a temporary commission at the same time. But wait: his medal card says he earned his commission 25 September 1917!

So, that suggests a date in late 1917 / early 1918 that he started flying, assuming it takes a small number of months to learn to fly and pass the exams.

There are no dates on his RAF service record prior to 1 April 1918, but there wouldn't be, would there? You can't have a RAF service record without an RAF!

So the conclusion so far is that he transferred to the RAF at its inception (or shortly thereafter). But, I know he had RFC wings.

Thanks again to both of you for the tutorials, I'll go off and do some study!!

Keith

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The RAF List for April 1918 lists only three Parrs, Alfred William Clifford Vernon, Sydney Charles and W(illiam?), suggesting that A W Parr was not an officer in the RFC at the time it joined with the RNAS to become the RAF. Later editions of the Air Force List show A W Parr as being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 16 May 1918, a Lieutenant on 26 March 1919 and transferred to the unemployed list on 14 May 1919.

So far I have been unable to find an A W Parr in the editions of the Army List that I have although the London Gazette does confirm Cadet Arthur William Parr being a temporary 2nd Lieutenant attached to the Middlesex Regiment, 26 September 1917.

The RAF Muster Roll for April 1918 shows two A W Parrs, one (RAF service number 40992) with a enlistment date of July 1916, the other (RAF service number 106468) having an enlistment date of July 1917. Unfortunately I can find only an abbreviated version of the roll so cannot give details of ranks and trades etc.

Bit of a puzzle.

Graeme

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AWP was my father. He joined the 13th Middlesex Regiment in September 1914, service number g/4556.

In September 1917 he was commissioned into the 6th Middlesex.

At some point he transferred from ground troops to the RAFC, or so I'm told, but I have no evidence of this nor a date. Can anyone please suggest a way I might find out when this happened?

It seems that even when in the RAFC, men retained their old regiment, is that correct?

He joined the RAF at its inception, I have his RAF service record.

I have the following notes of tidbits mentioned by my mother, many years after the event:

He learned to fly at Waddington (in 47 TS, Training Squadron, see service record) and also flew from Hucknall near Nottingham. Then he went to the Instructor Pool Course at Lutterworth where he became a pilot instructor. Then he joined the 15 TDS (Training Depot Station) at Hucknall. Eventually he ended up in the Ferry Pool at Orchard Street in London where he flew repaired and new planes to France and flew the wrecks back

I'd welcome any confirmation, refutation, or amplification of the above! I'm interested to find out what he did, when, and where in his RAFC / RAF career.

He was hospitalised at 2nd Northern General Hospital (Leeds) in March 1919 - severely injured. Independently, he was said to have pranged a plane near Bradford, no details available, and I am wondering if this was the cause of the hospitalisation. I've found two accident cards (thanks to a link to the RAF museum records found in this forum - thank you!!), one is difficult (for me anyway) to read / decipher and I've asked if I might be able to get a better quality scan.

I'll be grateful for any information and guidance on how to pursue the story.

Keith

47 TS re-equipped with DH6s, after flying MF Se.11s in January 1918. Posting to Hucknall must have been to 15 TDS, which formed at that station on 1.4.1918, the only resident unit at the time. That would make sense - both station were in 27th Wing. The 'Lutterworth' instructors' course would be the MAFIS at Lilbourne and then a return to 15 TDS. BF F4868 cannot have been that badly damaged - it had been at Filton on 25.1.1919, allotted to the BEF and was with 6 Sqn in Mespot by 1923.

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When a soldier transferred from the Army to the RAF, did he keep his old number or was he issued with a new one, and did he keep his commission?

Lieutenant on 26 March 1919 and transferred to the unemployed list on 14 May 1919

I am suspicious of the Lieutenant commission, eg is it "my" AWP?, it seems so close to him leaving the service, any thoughts about that?

Thank you very much for searching, but as you say, Graeme, a bit of a puzzle!

Can you please help with abbreviations, Mick? MAFIS? I believe TS is Training Squadron, TDS Training Depot Station. I believe 47 TS was at Waddington? And while I'm at it, what was CDP? His RAF service record says:

P/L 217 6/12/18 Mid Area C.D.P. 11.12.18 D.H.q.Pilot.

I was going to ask about the plane. I have a picture of a Bristol Fighter so I know what it looked like, but how can one find out where it was stationed when (as you obviously have done, Mick!).

If F4868 was at Filton in January, then it was not being flown back from France and had not seen recent active service, is this likely to be correct?

Thank you for looking!

Keith

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Only other ranks had service numbers at the time of the First World War, and these were regimental numbers, rather than the army numbers introduced in the 20s. Therefore your number changed if you switched regiments/corps (and in some circumstances even if you changed unit within a regiment/corps). If he was only attached to the RFC he would have retained his original number.

For ease of reference, the War Office clerks did have a numbering system for the files they kept on officers, these are the Long Number files (now held as WO 339 at The National Archives) and the vowel series (WO 374, listed by initial letter of surname and first vowel, plus a running number). Following the war, the files for those officers who remained in the army were reorgnaised into a new single series and given a new reference, beginning with a P to avoid confusion with the old systems. This started to be used and published as the personal number shortly before the Second World War (RAF officers also started to use a number at around the same time - I see his AIR 76 file does have PF 21517 at the top of several pages which may be an Air Ministry equivalent of the War Office P file number). For officers, the number always follows the name, rather than preceding it as for other ranks. The Long Number does not map directly to an item number on Discovery, so you can't simply do WO 339/207888 as Nieuport tried. Instead 207888 will appear in the "Former Reference:Department" field. Something like WO 339 207888 parr in the search box would find it if it were there though.

When the RAF was formed, officers were often only lent, again there was quite a shakeout after the war, as those who had joined "for the duration" left, some opted to return to their original army units, and others took permanent RAF commissions.

Looking at his AIR 76, 27 April 1918 is merely the date the clerk filled out his record sheet, the fourth page of this does refer back to 23/7/17 "Fit H[ome] S[service] with flying. Restricted to below 10000 ft".

Lieutenant on 26 March 1919 was a promotion from second lieutenant, rather than being a new commission altogether by the looks of his AIR 76 (though it may have been formally in the RAF, rather than Army).

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Thank you David, that's a great summary of the numbering systems and answers pretty well all the questions I had.

Thank you also for spotting the

23/7/17 "Fit H[ome] S[service] with flying. Restricted to below 10000 ft".

I'd read it too but the significance, implying / confirming as it does RFC service, had escaped me. And the explanations of the abbreviations helps too, it's like learning another language, I'm reminded of "the PPS to the PS to the PM" :unsure:

So am I right to think that once you were awarded a commission, you kept it (except for extenuating circumstances of course)? Your comment about the 26 March 1919 is a good interpretation, not a new commission but a promotion appearing as a commission.

I'd also wondered about the PF 21517 number in the service record, how might I be able to confirm / refute that?

Keith

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Keith

I see David has answered regarding service/personal numbers.

The Air Force Lists up to December 1919 record only one A W Parr (in addition to the A W C V Parr) so it seems pretty conclusive that this is "your man". Reference to the Air Force List for June 1919 throws up numerous promotions prior to transfer to the Unemployed List, one of the shortest periods being William Beresford Walker DFC who was promoted Lieutenant on 1 March 1919 and transferred to the Unemployed List on 25 March!

However, I'm still puzzled by his AIR 76 file stating he was flying in July 1917 while he is not shown in the RAF List for April 1918, unless, of course, he was an NCO and was one of the two A W Parrs recorded on the Muster Roll - I'll see if I can locate an unabridged version.

I suppose it is also possible that your family history is a little awry and the A W Parr commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and attached to the Middlesex Regiment on 26 September 1917 is not the same A W Parr who was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the RAF on 16 May 1918. I had a dickens of a job tracking down details of my grandfather's service in the Navy due to what I had been told by other family members being a little wide of the mark - turns out he was in the Merchant Navy and references to "HMS" were red herrings.

Graeme

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Hi Graeme

Yes, it's confusing with so may AWPs around. It would have been helpful (!) if the Gazette had included service numbers ...

unless, of course, he was an NCO and was one of the two A W Parrs recorded on the Muster Roll - I'll see if I can locate an unabridged version

That would be very helpful, thank you! Given that he was commissioned as temporary 2nd Lieutenant in 16 October 1917 Gazette, does that make him an NCO or Commissioned Officer? I can't help wondering whether his "fit for flying", his commission, and him joining RFC are related.

As for the current version of the family history, I think (thought?!) it's OK. One of his medal cards shows him as private in Middx and Lieutenant in the RAF, the other as private & corporal in Middx. But you're right, I think, I have no evidence except the Gazette that my AWP was the same AWP commissioned 26 September 1917. So I need a record showing his as (2nd) Lieutenant in the Middx.

Might it be helpful (elimination) to see if another AWP has a record showing (2nd) Lieutenant in September 1917?

Keith

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Keith,

Having now seen the second medal index card and gone through all the Gazette entries, I am quite happy that everything relates to the same A W Parr. It just needs you to be confident that either G/4556 or the Lieutenant in the RAF is your father.

Have you looked at the actual medal rolls? There may be further notations on them. Even better, are his medals still in the family?

Phil

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Hi Phil

I've never seen the medals but you never know, there are still boxes to sort through ...

I'm confident that G/4556 is my father, the birth date and names match, it would be too much of a coincidence for name and birth date to match someone else.

I'm looking for evidence that my father moved to the RFC at some point (when?). The "fit for flying" comment in his RAF record strongly (I think) supports this.

I'm confident that the RAF record is him, it provides his first wife's name and address as next of kin.

In the meantime I've sent off the forms for his army record, but given comments about fires in document repositories I'm less than 100% confident that that will yield much. I guess that will take a month anyway, probably more at this time of year.

I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean by "medal rolls". I've accessed some pages in landscape with several names and some medal details. The following is a transcript of one of them:

G/4556 a/cpl Parr Arthur William G/4556 13th Middx [Pte crossed out] Cpl - [NW/3/899 1.VX8611 df 13 3 23] Discharged to commission 25 9 17 6th Middx R [Entered on B.G]

The bits in [] was handwritten and not all that easy to read so may be mis-transcribed B.G might be B.ln for example!.

Any ideas what the abbreviations might mean?

Thanks again for making the time to help with this!

Keith

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Keith,

The medal rolls are available on Ancestry (which I haven't got) and are the references referred to on the medal index cards: E/1/106 B2 Page 998 and E/1/3 B3 Page 256.

It does sound like you have at least one of them.

I am curious to know what is inscribed on the BW & VM medals as they are issued under the Ordinary Ranks rolls for the Middlesex Regiment. I get confused with naming on medals and may be totally wrong, but I would have thought that if he was an officer, in the RAF and flying in and out of France prior to 11/11/18, that would be reflected on them.

NW/3/899 is a clerical reference, now lost in the mists of time.

iv x8611 d/3.3.23 relates to the issue voucher under which his medals were sent out and the date.

Entered on BG - I have no idea.

I don't know how quick the MoD is responding to requests for service records these days, but be prepared for a long wait - it was up to 6 months at one point, I believe. The records should not have been affected by the Arnside fire, but they may have been weeded, possibly to destruction.

Phil

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  • 3 months later...

After a longish wait, I now have my father's army records, or what's left of them. There are two documents: one a summary made in 1943 when he signed up for the second world war, the other Army Form B200 which appears to be a certified copy made in 1943 of some original document(s).

The two entries which seem most relevant here are:

To report to o.c. Btn. Pembroke College Cambridge, authy w.o.forms s.d.601 (2) ?df? 30-5-17 Cpl 25.9.17

Discharged on receiving a commission in 6th Middlesex Reg. authy:w.o.l. no 42/?J.O./38 U.S.K (504) ?df? 11-10-17 Cpl 25.9.17

the characters between ?? are best guesses, reading from handwriting.

I imagine Pembroke College was an officer training school?

Still no hint about attachment / transfer to RFC, just that "fit for flying" entry 23 07 1917, and no dates for his attachment to 47 TS.

Keith

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  • 1 month later...

I visited the RAF Museum & Archives last week and had the good fortune to meet a very helpful archivist. As if by magic he found a medical record (A M Form 150) which is helpful but also raises a couple of questions. I'm hoping someone here might be able to help.

First off, confirming some of the previous discussions above, it shows him as 2nd Lt. appointed as F O (which I assume is Flying Officer) with the date 26 09 1917. But the date of the first MB was 23 07 1917. This suggests / confirms that he was flying before 23 07 1917.

One column is headed Date & Place of M B - which I assume is Medical Board. The text for MB dated 23 07 17 matches that in the Air76: fit HS with flying limited to below 10,000 ft.

Under each entry (there appear to be four) there appears "In & By" - but that's handwritten so I could be mis-interpreting it. Is this a standard expression? Any idea what it means?

It was suggested that a possible source of information might be the Army Lists which were issued monthly. By tracing AWP in each month it might be possible to reconstruct his career - and maybe the date he transferred to / was seconded to the RFC. Are the Army lists available in electronic form anywhere or is it a case of sitting down with the tomes and ploughing through them?

Any further help or recommendations would be welcomed.

Keith

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"In and by" indicates that the cause of the thing that led to him being boarded happened in service and caused/aggravated by his service.

National Library of Scotland has at least some Army Lists online.

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